The House of Representatives has kicked against the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians residing in China over the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
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The lawmakers registered their disapproval at a meeting between its leadership led by Femi Gbajabiamila, the House Speaker, and Zhou Pingjian, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, in Abuja on Friday.
Viral media reports/videos from Beijing showed Nigerians being forced out of their houses and hotels, rounded up and their passports seized by the Chinese police.
The videos also showed that some Nigerians were being forced into another 14-day quarantine after the initial 14 days they had spent for the same purpose over the COVID-19 pandemic in China.
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Gbajabiamila confronted the Ambassador with parts of the video in which a Nigerian diplomat was seen challenging Chinese officials over the maltreatment.
The Speaker said there should be an official explanation for treating Nigerians in such a manner.
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He said: “If the diplomatic relationships between our two countries are for the mutual benefits of our citizens, then there must be respect for our citizens, and we should not compromise it.
“As a government, we will not allow Chinese or other nationals to be maltreated just as we will not allow Nigerians to be maltreated in other countries.
“The way you treat your citizens, we expect that’s how you’ll treat others. We will not tolerate our citizens breaking your laws, but the crime of one citizen cannot be used to stigmatize the whole country.”
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Responding, Ambassador Pingjian stated that although he has not been officially informed about the details of the incidence, he would take it up with his government.
“We take our relationship with Nigeria very seriously. Until we receive a full report from back home, I cannot act, but I can assure you it is not a policy issue.
“We treat everyone equally, but during the implementation of the COVID-19 measures in China, it is possible for some incidents; all I do is to take it back home and today I will,” he said.
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The Speaker said the House will expect feedback from the Ambassador as soon as possible, saying “We are glad you are looking into it but we are hoping to have it at least by Tuesday.
“It is better we nip it in the bud so that it doesn’t escalate to another level. So, by Tuesday, if you have the information to give us, if steps have been taken, let’s talk about it and let’s see the way forward.”